Coast Guard finds weapon, drugs on felon’s boat in Oak Island, N.C.

SOUTHPORT, N.C. – The Coast Guard found an illegal firearm, ammunition, and illegal drugs in a grounded fishing vessel and assisted local law enforcement officers with taking the vessel’s owner into custody near the Southport Harbor marina Wednesday night.

The North Carolina Marine Patrol notified Coast Guard watchstanders at Station Oak Island at approximately 6:30 p.m. that they located an unmanned 35-foot recreational boat aground in the marsh near the marina.

Two Coast Guard boarding officers from the station and a marine patrol crew arrived on scene aboard a shallow-draft marine patrol boat to verify the condition of the vessel and to determine if there was any distress or any pollution.

“We found ammunition on the boat, so we did a background check on the owner and found out that he was a convicted felon,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Shawn Durgin, a boarding officer from the station. “We called the owner, and he said he was the only one on the boat. Then we did a sweep of the whole boat and found a gun, spear-gun projectiles, and schedule II and III controlled substances.”

The marine patrol boat crew then transported an Oak Island Police Department K-9 unit and two detectives to search the boat, according to Durgin.

Shortly after, the owner and operator of the vessel arrived with a crew from the American Fish Company to salvage the vessel.

Upon arrival, the owner was arrested and taken into custody by Oak Island police.

According to Petty Officer 1st Class David Burr, a boarding officer from the station, it is not uncommon for the Coast Guard to work alongside the North Carolina Marine Patrol and local police departments.

“It’s become a really good working relationship,” said Burr. “They keep their boats at our station. I’m usually able to make a few phone calls and have the support we need.”

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